On most smartphones in active use, batteries last little more than half a day. But there is a simple secret to the real battery hog, and how to double that life, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
You know how it goes when you first get a new smartphone. Battery life is amazing for the first few days, often lasting well into the night. Then, as you download more apps and use them actively, you find yourself scrambling for a power bank or charging point by lunchtime.
We keep hearing that battery life is the next frontier of smartphone technology, and then we keep seeing dramatic advances in every aspect of the handset BUT battery life.
In the good old battery days of a decade ago, a Nokia 6310i gave you seven days’ talk time and a month on standby. The rapid advance of smartphone technology has meant that average battery life has rapidly gone down, instead of increasing, because so many more components and functions have been built on the same old batteries.
Now, however, battery management functions, such as those on new Samsung, LG and Huawei devices, help to identify which apps drain the most power, and to shut down the offending tools.
But, strange to say, this doesn’t keep our phones going longer. As we keep opening new apps that we hope are less demanding, or keep open some of the apps that are indicated as having low power demands, the battery drainage continues at the same high rate.
This happens particularly while one is driving, and using navigational apps like Waze and Google Maps. The assumption that tends to be made is that it is not the app itself that is resulting in heavy battery use, but the need for the maps to be updated continuously. This results not only in an ongoing data flood, but also requires the phone to keep polling the 3G or LTE masts at base stations along the route. Surely the prime reason the battery is dying!
The truth is a little simpler and a lot closer to home.
The reason Waze appears to chew up battery life faster than a puppy destroying a slipper is because it keeps alive the real battery hog: the screen display.
Check that battery management tool again: it can almost be guaranteed that half the battery usage in any given period is coming from the display. The bigger the screen, the more the display demand, and the faster the battery drain.
For this reason, entry-level smartphones with 3.5-inch screens tend to have far more battery life than the average 5-inch or 5.5-inch flagship devices. Compact editions of the Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia phones last longer than their bigger siblings. This is counter-intuitive merely because we expect to get better performance when we pay more.
The exception to the rule appears to be the giant-sized phablets: the 5.7” to 6” behemoths. But there is a simple reason for that, too. Most of these phones have oversized batteries, specifically to compensate for the giant displays.
It’s not an industry secret, either. Manufacturers continually point out this truth, but usually in the small print, as an afterthought, or somewhere offstage after the big launch.
All of this means that there is also a simple secret to extending battery life, while we wait for the scientists and engineers to catch up to our needs.
Every time you finish using the handset, whether for a call, a WhatsApp message or a Facebook peek, simply click the On/Off button briefly – that is, not long enough to switch off the phone, but merely to turn the display dark.
If that doesn’t at least extend your battery life into the evening, something else is going wrong with the device, or a rogue app is indeed going puppy on the battery slipper.
Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist
Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.
Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.
The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela. It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.
“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time. We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”
The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba. It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.
Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.
“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”
This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.
Sports streaming takes off
Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.
England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.
According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.
Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.
The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.
“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”
With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.
“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”
The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.